Terrorist gunmen have killed more than 100 people and injured a further 300 in a series of co-ordinated attacks on targets in India's financial capital, Mumbai (Bombay to you and me). The attackers opened fire at luxury hotels, hospitals, a well-known cafe and a railway station. The head of Mumbai's anti-terrorist squad is among the dead.
Blame's already being attached to the banned Students Islamic Movement of India, and its Indian Mujahideen offshoot. A previously-unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen has said it carried out the attacks, and it seems probable that it's linked to the SIMI and IM. But the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also said he believes the attackers have links outside India, and there are good reasons to suspect he might be right.
The Mumbai shootings show a surprise shift in tactics from the Islamist terrorists. Past attacks in India have usually involved leaving bombs at various targets in the traditional way. This onslaught, featuring a mixture of gunfire, hostage-taking and men clearly willing to die in the act of terrorism, is clearly different. The fact that gunmen targeted places used by westerners, and witness reports that they tried to single out those with American and British passports, indicate something of an Al Qaeda-style dimension to these attacks. There's no sign (yet) Al Qaeda itself had anything directly to do with what happened in Mumbai. But it seems its tactics of suicide and of targeting westerners influenced those who carried out the attacks. Expect the dramatic and audacious nature of this incident to inspire others in the future.